Divorce and Domestic Violence: Victims of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence: Victims of Domestic Violence

If you are a victim of domestic violence or if you know someone who is a victim of domestic violence you may not know what to do in this situation. If it is an emergency you may want to consider calling 911. If you feel trapped in an abusive relationship that involves domestic violence, know that there are many ways to get away from domestic violence. Here are some ideas for victims of domestic violence that are worth exploring.

First you may want to consider a way to get away from the abuser and perpetrator of domestic violence. Right from the first domestic violence act, you may want to consider leaving the place that you share with the aggressor. Whether it is the first act of domestic violence or not it is much safer to get away from the abuser and find another place to stay. Too often, victims of domestic violence are afraid of leaving his/her place of residence resulting in more abuse by the perpetrator of domestic violence.

If you are a victim of domestic violence you may also want to consider obtaining some external help such as requesting assistance from the police or local law enforcement. If you are in need of legal advice, you will want to consult an attorney. You may also wish to consider contacting a friend or a neighbor to get away from the situation rather than try to get trough it alone. Sadly, victims of domestic violence, who are in a very vulnerable situation, will often be persuaded from attempting to obtain help. External assistance is often very critical to help keep the victim of domestic violence protected.

Local police officers and sheriffs are often trained to handle domestic violence cases and can be extremely helpful to the victim of domestic violence. Additionally, law enforcement personnel or city attorneys can provide victims with helpful information related to domestic violence or provide referrals to other local assistance centers such as emergency shelters or safe houses. There are also many local group activities on domestic violence for women which can provide counseling and legal assistance to women.

Another consideration would be to obtain a temporary or long-term restraining order in order to stop the domestic violence. A protective order generally provides that the abuser or perpetrator of domestic violence be restrained from having any form of contact with the victim, has to move out from the residence shared with the protected person, and should stay at least 100 yards away from the protected person at all times. If any children or family members live in the same place, they may also be included in the category of protected persons.

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence whether you are rich or poor and whatever your background, such as a school drop-out or university graduate. Therefore it is essential to know how to get help with a domestic violence situation for your own health and safety as well as the health and safety of those close to you. If you are seeking legal advice regarding domestic violence and protective orders, you will want to consult an attorney in your jurisdiction.

© 2006 Child Custody Coach

Domestic Violence No Contact Orders in Washington State

In Washington State, there is no crime of Domestic Violence. Rather, Domestic Violence is a tag that is put on other crimes indicating that there is a family or household relationship between the parties involved. Most jurisdictions will impose a No Contact Order that prohibits the defendant in a Domestic Violence (“DV”) case from having contact with the alleged victim of the crime. The order will often prohibit contact with the victim’s children, residence and place of work too.

Family or household relationship

According to RCW 10.99.020(3), family or household members is defined as:

[S]pouses, former spouses, persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, persons sixteen years of age or older who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past and who have or have had a dating relationship, persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship, and persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren.

As you can see, this definition is extremely broad. It is far more inclusive then what most people would expect it to be. The same is true for the types of crimes that are labeled “Domestic Violence.” Most people only think of Assault when it comes to domestic violence, however there are many other crimes that can carry the DV tag.

Mandatory Arrest

According to RCW 10.31.100(2)(c), an officer must make an arrest if: The person is sixteen years or older and within the preceding four hours has assaulted a family or household member as defined in RCW 10.99.020 and the officer believes:

(i) A felonious assault has occurred;

(ii) an assault has occurred which has resulted in bodily injury to the victim, whether the injury is observable by the responding officer or not; or

(iii) that any physical action has occurred which was intended to cause another person reasonably to fear imminent serious bodily injury or death. Bodily injury means physical pain, illness, or an impairment of physical condition. When the officer has probable cause to believe that family or household members have assaulted each other, the officer is not required to arrest both persons. The officer shall arrest the person whom the officer believes to be the primary physical aggressor. In making this determination, the officer shall make every reasonable effort to consider:

(i) The intent to protect victims of domestic violence under RCW 10.99.010;

(ii) the comparative extent of injuries inflicted or serious threats creating fear of physical injury; and

(iii) the history of domestic violence between the persons involved.

If you get arrested for a crime involving domestic violence, a No Contact Order will slam into place almost immediately.

No Contact Orders

There are two types of No Contact Orders in Washington State: Pre-Trial and Post Conviction. Both types of orders prevent the defendant from having contact with the alleged victim. However, neither type prevents the victim from trying to have contact with the defendant, since only the defendant goes to jail if the order is violated. In other words, the No Contact Orders limit only the defendant’s behavior.

Pre-Trial

Pre-Trial Orders are issued against the defendant (sometimes called a Respondent) before he or she is convicted of having done anything wrong. These orders can preclude contact between the Respondent and the alleged victim of the crime, the victim’s children (even if they are the Respondent’s children too), the victim’s place of work and the victim’s home (even if it’s the Respondent’s home too).

In other words, these orders can force you away from your home and your kids before you have even been convicted of a crime. This is true even if the victim says that nothing happened or that whatever did happen was blown all out of proportion.

Pre-trial orders stay in place until there is a resolution to the criminal case or until a Judge lifts it.

Post-Conviction

A No Contact Order issued after conviction can carry the same types of restrictions that a Pre-Trial order does. Post-Conviction Orders are generally good for a year, however a Judge can extend that if he or she feels that the facts warrant it.

Civil Standby

Since a No Contact Order can preclude you from going to your own home, the Courts will generally allow you one trip home to get clothes and a few personal items. However, you must be accompanied by a Law Enforcement Officer. This process is called a “Civil Standby.” You must contact the law enforcement agency and schedule a time for the Civil Standby. Be aware, however, that this is a low priority action for most law enforcement agencies, so the civil standby will only be done when they have the time to spare.

Violating a No Contact Order

A willful violation of a No Contact Order is a gross misdemeanor; which means that you can get up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Since violating a Domestic Violence No Contact Order is itself labeled a crime of domestic violence, your rights to own or possess firearms will be forfeited upon conviction – even if no gun was used, possessed, mentioned or in any other way used or contemplated. This is true even where the underlying criminal case, which caused the No Contact Order to be issued, is dismissed.

Being in a public place, even the courthouse, is not a defense to violating the order. This means that if an order is issued against you and you see the protected person at a grocery store then you must leave. Inadvertent contact may technically not violate the order, but you may well have to go in front of a Judge to defend yourself. Besides the stress involved, you may have to spend more money in order to hire an attorney.

Even if the victim invites the contact, the respondent can face jail time if the order is violated. What I see most often in my cases, is the following scenario:

Two people have a relationship. Something happens and the police are called. Because of everyone’s sensitivity to “Domestic Violence” the police err on the side of charging someone. A No Contact Order then slams into place, precluding the two people from having contact with one another. It may also make one of them unexpectedly homeless – but that is a different issue. People, being people, want to work the problem out and the alleged victim contacts the defendant and says something to the effect of “I’m so sorry that all of this is happening. Come home and I’ll make it worth your while.” The problem, of course, is that the defendant takes the alleged victim up on the offer. Generally, legal problems multiply for the defendant shortly thereafter as the happy couple go out to celebrate their rekindled relationship only to pull a “slow and go” at a stop sign – or some other minor traffic infraction. They then get stopped by the police. When the officer runs the occupants’ information, up jumps the No Contact Order and the defendant is arrested then taken to jail where he is now facing an additional charge.

Removing the Order

It is very difficult to remove a Pre-Trial No Contact order once it is in place. Even if the victim comes in and testifies before the Judge that the order is not needed, most Judges will leave the order in place.

One strategy is to have the defendant evaluated by a Domestic Violence Treatment Agency. If a counselor is willing to tell the Judge that the defendant would not pose a danger to the victim if the order is removed, then the Judge can eliminate the order. The Treatment Agency may want to get the defendant into classes before agreeing to make a recommendation to the Judge.

Another strategy is to ask the Court to modify the No C0ontact Order to allow marriage counseling. Some Judges will require that contact only be allowed while monitored by a third party from the treatment agency.

Once a No Contact Order has been modified to allow conditional contact, a Judge is more likely to remove the order later, unless there is a new problem.

Victim Rights

Most Prosecutors’ Offices have a Domestic Violence Advocate. It is this person’s job to help the victim of a domestic violence offense understand what services are available to them and help keep them informed as the court process moves along.

I have seen numerous cases where the victim does not want the No Contact Order to be in effect. Going through the victims advocate person can sometimes be helpful.

Most courts have a form that the alleged victim can fill out requesting that the Judge drop the No Contact Order. In my experience, most Judges will maintain the order even after the victim asks to have it dropped. Even though the order remains in place, having the victim ask for it to be removed is still valuable, since it may be useful on a later attempt to remove the order.

Gun Rights

Conviction for a crime labeled Domestic Violence will cause you to loose your right to own or possess firearms. This is a lifelong ban.

Example

In one case I had, the husband was arrested for a Domestic Violence charge when, during an argument, he threw a bowl into their kitchen sink, chipping it. The argument was overheard by a nearby neighbor who called the police. The police arrived and when they looked in the sink, they found the chipped bowl and arrested the husband for domestic violence malicious mischief. There was no allegation that the husband threw the bowl at, or even near, his wife. Since Washington is a Community Property state, both the husband and the wife had an ownership interest in the bowl, thus by chipping his bowl, the husband damaged property belonging to another (i.e. his wife) and was therefore liable under Malicious Mischief. Without counsel, the husband (who had no prior criminal history) pled guilty at arraignment. He was given a one year No Contact Order which prevented him from going home for a year or having any contact with his wife.

Had the husband contacted an attorney prior to pleading guilty, he may not have had a conviction at all. Even if there was a conviction, an attorney could have helped him avoid such a long No Contact Order.

Copyright (c) 2007 The Cahoon Law Office – All rights reserved.

The Laws Behind Domestic Violence

“Domestic violence is a criminal matter and needs to stay in criminal court,… Too often, judges see charges of domestic violence as a ploy to get custody and send the case to family court.” – Catherine Campbell.

The Federal government has enacted many domestic violence laws to protect those that are married or in a domestic partnership from being victimized and abused. There are specific laws that deal with stalking, protection, traveling to commit violence, and violence against women. These laws are dealt with specifically on the federal level, and then there are state specific laws as well.

In 1994, Congress joined the fight against domestic violence by enacting legislation as part of the crime bill. Historically, the government did not have jurisdiction over domestic violence related crimes that occurred in the community. These types of crimes were dealt with in the local and state levels. The Congress of the United States recognized that crimes against women and children were posing a serious problem. Congress came up with legislation to address the shortcomings called the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This legislation created laws to address some types of domestic violence crimes on the federal level.

The precedent that was set by Congress in 1994 spread to the fifty states also. The states were asked to pass harsher laws dealing with crimes related to domestic violence. As time has passed, laws have been created to address other issues such as stalking, internet stalking, internet related crimes such as communicating threats, and so on.

Laws have been passed to fund help for victims and their children. The government has also made grants available to help states implement more support programs and networks to add victims of this type of crime. There is a national hotline that has also been created to connect victims with someone in their local area to help them with intervention and information.

The federal government has also created programs that rank how states are doing in the fight against dating violence, and are funding more shelters. The government is taking this fight very seriously and is backing their stance with funding and support. How successful have these new laws been? Well this depends upon who you ask. Official statistics show that the domestic violence laws put into place are making a dent in the amount of crimes being reported and being committed. Advocates claim that the instances of domestic violence have increased and are continuing in an upward trend.

We are making progress in the fight in our communities by making more programs and making help available to victims. We are not making progress in decreasing the amount and severity of instances of violence. More funding should be given to rehabilitate the perpetrator of this violence to end the cycle. Adding more severe domestic violence laws to punish might curb some violence but not all.

Domestic Violence is Unacceptable in the United States

There are many male dominated societies and cultures in the World, but in the United States we have chosen equal rights for both men and women. Thus, we have laws against domestic violence, which is a much fairer way to live. Still, other cultures think we are nuts for allowing women the same rights as men, they still believe that since men on average are stronger than women, it is only natural that they should dominate them and rule over the family unit. Indeed, this attitude is unfortunate and it is far too common in the world today.

We do see that domestic violence is more prevalent in the United States with those nationalities that come from predominantly male dominated societies. You can ask a police officer about the domestic calls they go on, and they will explain to you, the ethnic make-up of those generally involved and the high percentages. Today, in America we are told not to stereotype or to classify race, religion, nationality, but when it comes to domestic violence in the US, it is obvious from an observational standpoint.

Indeed, in this short article, I am not obligated to explain to you these facts or point our which nationalities have the most domestic violence cases. Suffice it to say that although domestic violence happens with all nationalities and races in the US, it is far greater with a certain few. It is probably not wise to sit around and judge various groups, but the data shows the reality. It is far better to do something about it, making it clear that it is unacceptable here in the US and work locally with community groups to put an end to it all. Think on this.

Ask A Domestic Violence Lawyer: Taking Time Off Work

For those who are victims of abuse from an intimate partner, the right to take time off from work is provided under federal law. In some situations, state laws may also provide extended leave for employees who are injured due to abuse. It is best to consult a domestic violence lawyer if the workplace does not comply with laws provided.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can be defined as the mental or physical abuse inflicted by a partner. It can often deter the victim from going to work, whether it is for the purpose of obtaining medical assistance or to move to a safer location. Time off may also be required if one person damages or sabotages the others ability to get to work, such as vehicular damage or withholding access to cash.

Because of the increased amount of time away from work that is required to deal with these situations, many states have chosen to adopt domestic violence leave laws that provides time off for victims. In addition to utilizing the Family Medical Leave Act, which provides up to 12 weeks off per year to handle personal or family medical ordeals, these specialized laws permit victims to take time off to attend court proceedings.

Statewide Domestic Violence Leave Laws

The states that currently have these laws in place are very similar in what they cover, but there are variations.

For instance, some may vary in the length of time they offer. Some states provide a set amount of days off while others simply stipulate that a “reasonable amount of time” away is adequate. Other states only require that an employee not be fired due to absence stemming from a domestic abuse incident.

The stated reason for being away is also a consideration that varies. The list of covered activities is different, but may include all or some of the following: seeking mental or emotional counseling, seeking a domestic violence lawyer, going to court, or seeking a restraining order.

In addition, each state has different requirements for the application process. Some employers may need significant notice and extensive paperwork. However, there are typically stipulations in place for emergencies when notice is not an option. Other areas may require written proof for being absent.

The issue of paid days off will also depend on your location. No state requires employers to pay employees for time off. Employees may be able to use accrued hours from vacation or sick days before taking leave.

When dealing with abuse situations, it is crucial to work closely with a domestic violence lawyer to ensure total safety from an aggressor. They can also advise when a victim may need to take time off to deal with all that is necessary in these cases.